by P. I. Barrington
Part 1, Part 2|
appear in this issue.
I checked both option boxes and hit Enter. I read the instructions on the pink-on-purple web page, and then hit Print. The machine hummed as it spit out three pages in less than 3.5 seconds. God bless you, Hewlett-Packard, I thought, snatching the papers and pinning them together with an orange paper clip. I headed back to the living room where the Elf sat transfixed by the black, blank television screen.
“I have to go out and get a few things,” I told him, tugging on my jacket and grabbing the apartment keys by habit. I picked up the remote control and tossed it at him. “Knock yourself out... it’s called a TV,” I added before he could ask.
The local hardware store carried everything I needed. Metal wires, a bit of chain link, a lightning rod, 12-volt batteries and a skeleton key for good measure. Just like a modern day Benjamin Franklin, I snickered to myself. Then I realized I was out in public and stopped the snickering. Outwardly anyway.
“Whatcha’ gonna do, Lady?” the store manager asked as he rung up my items. “Electrocute somebody?”
“Not if he behaves himself.”
“Heh, yeah. Relationship troubles. I got a few myself! That’ll be twenty-nine, eighty-five.”
I hightailed it back to my apartment. I opened the door and yelled out Thraniel’s name. I went into the living room.
“Where are y--?” I stopped in mid-sentence.
The jeans were on the floor. The T-shirt was on the television set. The shoes, those beautiful Nikes, were nowhere to be seen.
“What the f--?” The Nikes were in the kitchen sink. I experienced a brief flash of some experimental sexual tryst. Then I saw it.
The entire carafe holding the leftover coffee smashed to shards on the floor. I clapped a hand over my mouth. What happened here?
“Thraniel!” I screamed his name as I searched the bedrooms, the bathrooms, my office.
No response but silence came back. Something was vibrating against my hip. I pressed my hand to my pocket. Everyone knew not to call that number at that time in the night unless it was a dire emergency. I flipped the phone open.
“Hello?” I said.
“Miss Dannika Lawrence? This is the New York City Police Department...”
It was a dire emergency.
My hand shook as I signed the bail papers. I managed to scrawl what might pass for my signature and I stared at the unbelievable amount of bail money I had just agreed to put up.
“Exactly what happened?” I asked the desk sergeant a moment before they took me to see him.
“Lady, I don’t know where you found this nut job, but he was arrested for shooting someone in the shoulder with a bow and arrow. The officers had a hell of a time restraining him too. Man, it’s true about these crazies being strong. Every damned one of ’em.”
I licked my dry, papery lips as the bailiff and I rounded the corner to the holding cells.
Thraniel leaned, arms folded, against the wall in a belligerent attitude. All of the other ‘bad dudes’ stood on the other side of the cell. He towered over them all. If I could have laughed, I would have. But my stomach hadn’t stopped jumping yet.
“Dannika!” Thraniel smiled a broad smile and thrust out his arms as if we’d arrived at the same family picnic after years apart.
“What happened?” I hissed out a whisper.
“These... fools... are holding me captive for no reason.” He shot an angry look at the guard.
“Foo—no good reason—what—what did you do?” Finally, I got it out.
“I merely saved a woman from danger.”
“Wha—danger? What the hell are you talking about?”
His expression changed to frustration at my simplemindedness.
“A human man accosted a woman. I stopped him. Then I was taken captive.”
I thought I heard the other men sniggering. I pressed my fingertips to my brows and looked down at my shoes.
“You shot someone with your bow and arrow! Don’t you understand?” I spat at him.
“I understand that I am being unjustly detained.”
I rolled my eyes. “Sir... bailiff? Could you let him out now? I paid the bail.”
The huge guard tinkled his keys and said in his deep loud voice, “Releasing prisoner into custody!” From nowhere, three other guards materialized, hands on revolvers at their hips.
“It’s okay,” I held up a palm. “He won’t do anything.”
None of them moved.
“I promise,” I said.
They still didn’t move even when the bailiff unlocked and opened the door. It swung outward and Thraniel stepped out. He shrugged pointedly and gave an evil look in the direction of the group of police officers.
“Don’t piss them off,” I warned him. “Fear gives them itchy fingers. Itchy trigger fingers.”
We rode in silence all the way to my parking garage. He still said nothing in the elevator. In the living room, I could finally hold it in no longer.
“Why the hell did you change your clothes?” I pointed to the jeans. “What possessed you to go out and shoot the hell out of somebody with that damned bow?” My voice rose in decibels and pitch.
“I—I don’t know.” Thraniel looked genuinely confused. “I don’t remember.”
“What happened here? Think. What did you do when I left?”
“Well, I—I was looking at that thing...” He pointed at the television which was still on, showing the local news. “And I became thirsty,” He walked into the kitchen. “And I picked up that thing,” indicating the carafe. “And I just... just started drinking that dark juice. I don’t remember anything after that.”
“Coffee,” I said. “It’s coffee, not juice.” I walked back into the living room. “But why would you change and then go out?”
“I think I remember something about looking for you,” he said. “And I do remember feeling very... warm. Hot, in fact.”
“So you took off your clothes,” I prompted.
“I was also very uncomfortable.”
“And you put your own clothes back on, then took off looking for me.”
“Er... yes. Something rather like that.” He still wore a puzzled expression.
I shook my head quick and hard to clear it. I had to figure out some logical explanation before the Elf’s arraignment. Or, worse, his commitment.
“Okay.” I threw myself down on the couch and tossed aside the lonely pair of jeans.
“Think, damn it, Elf. Think. How did you become involved in shooting someone?”
“I told you. A man accosted a woman. I shot him to stop him.”
“What were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t. It was just a natural reflex of a warrior.”
I stood up. Something on the news flickered across my attention but I ignored it.
“Listen,” I said. “Something like this might be considered par for the course and possibly quite normal back in L.A. But here in New York City, they tend to frown on that type of behavior.” I circled the couch deep in thought. I looked up at the television then back down again. “If you tell them you think you are an Elf, they’re going to lock you up for sure,”
“I am an Elf,” Thraniel pointed out. “And I’ve already been locked up as you say.”
“But you can’t tell them you are an Elf.”
“Lie?” He was horrified.
“Not lie, exactly,” I said. “Just don’t... mention it.”
“And what am I to say?”
“Just say... just say... you got drunk. We won’t tell them it was on the coffee... yeah. You got drunk and dressed up for a part in a movie you were doing and... and... since you are an... an... archer... an Olympic hopeful archer...”
“I don’t even understand what you are saying!” Thraniel shook his head and threw up his hands. “I cannot and will not lie!”
“Look, my Elven friend,” I put my hands on my hips. “You are not in your own dimension. Until I can get you back into your own dimension, you have to play by the New York City rules. If that means lie, you’re gonna lie. I am trying to keep you out of Bellevue’s mental ward. Do you have any idea what that means?” I shouted.
“No,” he said quietly.
“It means,” I shouted louder, “that you and I both are going to be in big trouble here, pal! You don’t go around shooting people, even bad people, with a bow and arrow in downtown Manhattan!” I threw myself back down on the couch. “Oh God.” I dropped my head into my hands. “I’m trying to keep us out of the nuthouse!” When I didn’t hear him say anything for a while, I looked up.
The Elf was staring at the television screen. His green eyes were wide. I followed his gaze.
There, as big as life, ran the amateur video of him nocking his bow then releasing the arrow dead-on into the offender’s right shoulder. The woman he apparently saved was screaming in fear but not only fear of her attacker. Following upon her screams came the flashing lights, the struggles and my own personal Elf being tucked into the back of a squad car.
“Oh, Jeeeezuz!” I howled as if baying at the moon. I might as well have been. It looked like we were both headed for Ward D. D as in “demented.” “Oh, Lord. I should have known — I should have known!” I jumped up and stamped my feet in frustration. “The media! They’ll be crawling out of the woodwork. Thank God I made bail for you before this hit the news. Okay, where can I hide you?”
“What?” Thraniel squawked.
“Oh no.” I told him. “You’re not going to start that again. Just shut up.” I paced in front of the television. “Hmmm. Where do you hide a great big giant Elf? A great big giant stupid Elf? You know what? That doesn’t even sound insane to me anymore! That’s how bad this situation is. Okay. I can claim temporary insanity. I’ve already got the background for it. But you?”
I put my finger against my nose like Santa. “Wait! I’ve got it! You’re a Trekkie! Well, not a Trekkie, but a... Fantasy fanatic. You’re a little unbalanced but you really went off when you tipped the bottle tonight. You just came unglued and... and you called me, your... your... meth-addicted girlfriend. Wait! You’re right!” I answered though he said nothing. I looked down at myself.
“At this weight they’d never buy it! Uh, I’m your some time romantic interest... and your only friend here in New York. I know your history and can vouch that you’ve never been violent before. You’ve never even had a drink before... ”
I stopped pacing and looked at my own personal Elf.
“Wow. This would make a great MOW!”
“MOW?” he asked, as usual.
“Movie Of the Week!”
“It’s the stuff you were looking at on that — the TV.” I pointed.
Thraniel blinked as he shook his head. It was apparent that he thought it all a waste of time.
“Never mind,” I decided. No matter how good-looking and lustable he was, I had to get him back to wherever the damned hell he’d come from, no matter what. I paced the floor a few more times.
“I’ll be in the next room packing. We’re heading back to the cabin. You stay here,” I ordered, pointing once again to the couch. “And for God’s sake, don’t touch the coffee!”
* * *
We stood at the scene of the incident. Thankfully, the weather was playing right into my plans. Clouds were gathering in a dark fluffy threat and I stood with all the metal apparatus hooked up to myself and my own personal Elf, Thraniel.
“Now,” I said, making sure the ions were negatively and positively charged. “If I’ve figured this out right, and the instructions are pretty clear, we should be flipping dimensions in about... oh... ten minutes or so.” I looked at my watch.
“What do you think will happen then?” Thraniel asked in a serious tone.
“Well, I am hoping you’ll be flung right back into Elfland.”
“I’ll be rubbing my head, which always seems to happen when you show up,” I told him.
“Then I will tell you now. It has been a pleasant experience, for the most part, to have known you.” He wasn’t laughing. “Perhaps you will come into my dimension at some time.”
“Perhaps, but not likely.”
“You would not like that?”
“It’s not a matter of liking,” I informed him. “I can barely handle this damned dimension. You know, they think I’m crazy. If I ever told anyone about you, they’d never let me out and would give up on prescribing medications for me.”
“But what if you could?”
“What? Go into your dimension? I can’t even picture a place where there’s no Internet. What would I do all day long?”
“You could be with me.”
I reflected on that a moment. It was a nice picture, me looking at his ass all day long.
“That might be nice. But what if I got a headache? Now, that is highly likely. You don’t even have aspirin there, do you? And what would I eat beside birds’ nests?”
“A joke?” he asked one last time.
“Yeah. A joke. I stole that from National Lampoon’s Bored of the Rings. My favorite spoof.
“Well,” I checked my watch again. “We should say goodbye here. I can hear thunder out there...” I pointed to the east. He spun me around and planted what must have been the biggest, deepest soul kiss I ever had, on my lips. Talk about a bolt of lightning.
* * *
“I don’t get it. What the hell is all this supposed to be?”
He stood up, brushing his hands against one another.
Another man walked up to his side, making notes on a papered clipboard. He shrugged. “Looks like some type of weird high-school science experiment. I can’t imagine why someone would choose to do something like this.”
“Humph. I thought I’d seen it all. So, what is it, an accident or a suicide? I gotta put something in my report.” The first man looked at the second.
“Well, I’d say it’s an accident, but all these conductors are set up in a logical sequence. It’s set up as an electrical conductor. Like a lightning rod. On the other hand, I can’t rule it a certain suicide either.”
“Why not?” The first man’s voice cracked in anger.
“I’ve never seen any suicides with that big a smile across their face.”
Copyright © 2007 by P. I. Barrington